Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin: return to cinema on lives “articulated around the dead”

(AFP) – A documentary in theaters Wednesday, before the hoped-for opening in the spring of the “Maison Gainsbourg”: Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin feed the appetite of fans for a family, haunted by its ghosts and become legendary in the cinema as in music.

At 50, Charlotte Gainsbourg is the custodian of the memory of this tribe which deeply marked French popular culture, linked by the fate of her father Serge, who died in 1991 when she was only 19 years old.

She reveals herself, as well as her mother Jane Birkin more than ever in the documentary that she shot, then presented in Cannes, “Jane by Charlotte”, and which arrives in theaters Wednesday.

The film, intended for fans, is the culmination of a long process of returning to a family and a legend with whom Charlotte Gainsbourg has long sought to escape, settling in New York.

“At first, I didn’t really know what I was doing,” Charlotte Gainsbourg told AFP in Cannes, who filmed her mother in several sequences over several years. “I did all this in a selfish way. I was looking for an excuse to get closer to her (…) and distinguish the public figure from the mother I love”.

“At the beginning, Charlotte arrived with a huge notebook, I was afraid of an + OK Corral + of all the mistakes I made in my life, I freaked out”, laughs Jane Birkin for her part, who ultimately admits having discovered with this film “the place (which she) occupied” for her daughter.

Serge Gainsbourg, icon of French music who died in 1991, Kate Barry, the half-sister of Charlotte, photographer and daughter of composer John Barry, raised with Serge and died in tragic circumstances at the age of 46 … “Our lives are articulated around the dead “, continues Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The film is an opportunity to reunite a daughter and a mother whom life had taken apart, with strong sequences, such as the return in flashback mode to the family cocoon of Gainsbourg rue de Verneuil in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.

In this house that looks like a decadent cabinet of curiosities, nothing has changed: Brigitte Bardot’s poster, the bathtub dominated by an imposing chandelier, even the cans in the fridge …

This creative lair of “Gainsbarre”, where Jane had not set foot again, Charlotte intends to turn it into a museum, which should open in the spring. It will be the “Maison Gainsbourg”, with a bookstore and a cafĂ© / piano bar, “the first cultural institution dedicated to this major figure of French song”.

The film, tender and introspective, will fascinate fans by showing the daily life of Jane Birkin, in her house in Brittany, the passion shared with her daughter for dogs, but also tackles the painful subjects of absence and disease.

Don’t ask Jane Birkin what she thought of her daughter’s movie: “It’s embarrassing to talk about it, like when someone asks you if it was okay after sleeping with him!”.